Things Buyers Do That Real Estate Agents Hate

Things Buyers Do That Real Estate Agents HateWhat Buyers Do That Realtors Hate!

Hiring a real estate agent involves entering into a relationship. While Realtors are eager to get new clients and buyers are anxious to find the house of their dreams, there can still be serious problems in such relationships. This is especially true when one party has unreasonable expectations.

When it comes to the relationship between buyers and Realtors, the real estate agent has a pretty good idea of what he or she can offer. But for buyers, this may be the first time they have ever worked with an agent before. Because of this, sometimes these buyers can do things that frustrate real estate agents.

Fortunately, most of these can be avoided, as long as you know about them beforehand and you understand at least a little of how the buying process works. For this reason, I have compiled the things buyers do that real estate agents hate. Follow these 13 tips and you will make your local Realtors happy!

Things Realtors Wish Buyers Wouldn’t Do

  • Call listing agents on your own – This is a free country and you have the option of doing a lot of stuff on your own, even if you shouldn’t. There is a reason you hired a buyers agent. This person has the skills and expertise you need to get you what you want. Why not use them? If you don’t trust your agent to do a good job you should probably hire another Realtor instead. And if you are happy with the one you have, tell him or her when you are interested in a property and let him or her do the calling for you.
  • Ask the listing agent to show you a home when you have a buyers agent – If you have a buyers agent use them! Don’t call the listing agent to show you properties because your Realtor isn’t around. Showing a home to someone who is not a client is not the listing agents job. If your buyer’s agent can never accommodate your schedule, it’s time to find another agent. If your agent is going away for the weekend and you want to see a home that just came on the market, talk to your agent about having another Realtor from their firm fill in for them.
  • Ask Realtors to show properties without being pre-approved – Real estate agents are busy people. It takes a lot of phone calls and a lot of miles to do what they do. This is why they want to know that the time they spend with you is worth spending. If you are not pre-approved for a home loan, what incentive does the real estate agent have to show you homes? It may take hours to view a single house, hours that could be spent on clients that can buy a home. A real estate agent doesn’t want to waste their time showing a bunch of homes to you at a price point that you are not qualified for. Before asking to see home make sure you get pre-approved for a loan. Understand the difference between a mortgage pre-qualification and mortgage pre-approval. These are two vastly different things!
  • Request to look at homes outside of your price point – If you are only approved for the purchase of a $400,000 home, what is the purpose of looking at a home that is listed at $500,000? No one is ever going to negotiate down on their price that far. Again, you are asking the agent to do things that serve no purpose for him or her and only serves to satisfy your curiosity. Once you have your pre-approval in hand, look at properties that make sense based on your budget, not fantasy land.
  • Not respecting our time by calling last minute – If you are working with a professional, they will want to be treated as such. Not respecting another persons time isn’t fair. Real Estate agents have schedules, lives, and family just like everyone else. Don’t expect an agent to drop everything they are doing on a whim because you want to look at a home in an hour. Treat your agent like a professional and you should get the same respect back from them. Deciding the world revolves around you will not help your cause in the long run.
  • Why Realtors Hate BuyersLook at a home five times and don’t make an offer – If you are going to drag a Realtor to the same house five times, including bringing your favorite aunt Mildred, having a contractor to get a quote on re-finishing the hardwood floors, and the local Feng shui expert along to say everything is swell, you better make sure you are going to make an offer!
  • Not doing any research on where you want to live – If you are going to be looking at homes you at least should have a general understanding of where you want to live. Asking a real estate agent to show you a bunch of homes in a town that you really wouldn’t consider living in just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Do some research on the communities you would consider first before asking an agent to show you homes.
  • Making unjustified low ball offers – Before you make an offer on the home, your agent will do a considerable amount of research to determine what that offer should be. Part of this process will be looking at comparable sales – the prices of other homes sold recently that had similar characteristics. This is information he or she can show to you so you understand why the offer should be what it is. Some buyers will still insist on making low ball offers, which are both insulting and a waste of time. This is the quickest way to get a seller pissed off to the point they will want to have nothing to do with you. If you love the home, you are making an offer on you best be sure that your offer is not insulting. There is a way of testing the waters without making an offer so little you come across as a fool. There is a fine line – make sure you don’t cross it!
  • Making an offer contingent on selling your current home – Sellers are not going to accept an offer with a home sale contingency 99% of the time. This is something your agent will explain to you as soon as you mention the idea. Sellers naturally prefer to sell to someone ready to buy, not someone that will only buy if their home sells. As much as we explain this, some people just won’t listen. They have to learn the hard way because they feel they know more than we do as agents. An offer contingent on selling another home is real estate fools gold. It’s like not having a real offer. So if you are serious about buying a home and need to sell yours first, get it on the market!
  • Negotiating home inspection items that were visible pre-inspection – If the deck on the house is obviously sagging or there is a leak in the basement that you can plainly see, your agent will craft your offer around this fact. You both saw the problem, and you made an offer anyway. Some buyers will try to negotiate on those same issues after the home inspection is finished. Some will even do this if the problem was pointed out in a sellers disclosure. People do negotiate after a home inspection, obviously. If the home inspector finds a mold infestation or termite damage or anything else that neither you nor your agent was aware of when you made the offer, then negotiation is expected. But do not try to negotiate on things that were readily apparent before you made your offer. It just makes you and your agent look bad and has very little chance of succeeding. I just had this exact scenario take place less than a month ago in Bellingham Massachusetts. We made it very clear to the buyers agent the seller would not be fixing items that came up during the inspection unless there were major surprises. The buyer didn’t listen and tried to get an additional six thousand off the price of the home. Sorry not going to happen!
  • Tips For Buyers Working With Real Estate AgentsExpecting the home to be perfect after the inspection – some buyers will ask the seller to fix ridiculous things after the home inspection because they want to move into a house that seems brand new. If the home was built in 1980, it’s not going to feel brand new. And the seller cannot be expected to make it that way, especially after you have already made an offer. There will be minor problems with any older home. Heck, there are even homes that are only a few years old that won’t be perfect – very few homes are. Just be aware of this. It’s important to understand what’s important to negotiate after a home inspection. Bringing a punch list of minutia to the listing agent after a home inspection is not going to be looked at favorably. Understand what is reasonable and what isn’t. Your real estate agent should be able to guide you on this.
  • Work with a buyers agent for months and then buy with someone else at an open house – real estate agents work on commission. They do not get paid a dime unless they make a sale. Do you think it’s fair to have a Realtor tote you around for months showing you property, only for you to decide one day to walk through a Real Estate open house and buy from the listing agent? This is about as despicable as it gets. Your agent probably has shown you homes at all times including nights and weekends giving up time away from family and friends. This is the way you repay them? Don’t do it! This probably tops the charts of things buyers do that real estate agents hate.
  • Work with more than one agent – As mentioned above real estate agents don’t get paid unless they make a sale. You should not be working with multiple agents at the same time in the same area. While you may think this is super convenient for you, it is not fair to either of the other parties involved. If this is something you plan on doing it should be discussed up front with both agents. Let them decide if they are comfortable with such an arrangement. The only time this is to be considered kosher is when you are looking in two different areas and have not decided on one yet.

Be a Reasonable Buyer

Buyers agents love to help people find homes. They like to help them get a good deal. But like anyone else, they prefer to work with people that have reasonable expectations. No one can honestly expect an old home to be perfect, and no established professional can be expected to work for free. This is still a business, and the best deals are made between reasonable people.

Work with your agent so you have the right expectations about your home shopping experience and do your part to buy the best house you can for the price. If you are not serious about the purchase of a home, don’t be the “lookie you” that every real estate agent hates to deal with. Treat your Realtor like you would want to be treated. When you establish a great relationship with an agent, you will be paid back in kind!

Additional Home Buying Resources Worth Reading

Use these additional resources to have an excellent real estate transaction and a terrific relationship with your real estate agent!


About the author: The above Real Estate information on things buyers do that real estate agents hate was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 29+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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  1. says

    These are right on the nose! But I’m going to put some of this on the agent themselves… we need to set expectations from the beginning and stick to them. Sometimes we need to just say ‘no’.

    • says

      Jennifer you are right about that! There are times when real estate agents do not educate their clients properly. All to often we assume they should know what we know and that is not the case.

    • Daniel Cardin says

      I’ll tell you one thing. Real estate agents that I’ve dealt with really misunderstand who works for whom. I simply don’t deal with them anymore. It is a real pain buying real estate without an agent, but I just can’t keep them focused. They are always trying to upsell me even after I’ve clearly told them exactly which SPECIFIC property I want to make and offer on. They have a lot of nerve, I’ll tell you that much.

  2. says

    What a great list and definitely to the point! Any Realtor reading this should be able to raise their hand and say at least one or more of these has happened to them in their history in this business. So many buyers think they’ll get the “best deal” if they contact the listing agent directly on a home that they have listed and don’t understand the benefit of having another agent assist them on the buying end to represent their best interests in the entire transaction. We definitely have to help educate them on that..

    • says

      Thanks for the compliments Betty. I learned a very long time ago to never assume a buyer knows anything about the real estate business. They should be treated with kid gloves and explain exactly how things work.

  3. Ivan Blanco says

    I’ll throw one in there: Agents hate when buyers pretend to be experts or have access to hidden properties because they browse Trulia, Zillow, and/or I love my clients, but every so often I feel like they undermine the work I do because they have a web browser and few minutes to spare after lunch. Treat me like a professional who knows the area inside and out, and PLEASE stop sending me listings you find on Craigslist and asking me to research each and every one of them.

    • says

      That is an excellent example and you are right Ivan. We all know how dated the information can be on sites like Zillow and Trulia. Homes show up there that have been under contract for weeks.

      • says

        I sooo agree with Ivan! As a user of & having the choice of only being a Buyer’s Broker, which I am passionate about, I hear immediately about the homes they’ve found. This is where I explain that can be somewhat more accurate. I also explain to them though that if they convey to me their wants/needs then I can more effectively help by setting them up in auto prospect which is the site Broker’s use to input all those homes they find. Having a #14 on the list that is more towards the top sounds good!

        One other item I explain in depth is that I will work closely w/the Lender & that I am licensed in Real Estate & their Lender is licensed in Mortgaging. I explain up front all parties involved as a team that works together.

        Another big item that I realized people do not put together is that their Home Inspection is not the Appraisal! Even the clients that know more about Real Estate than myself, don’t get this one!

        I will be using your guide for clients as part of their information packet :-)!

  4. Tina Kriens says

    As an agent I have a some of the issues happen to me as well. Being older & hopefully wiser, walk them through a general timeline of events and what to expect from me.
    Ask them them if they want to work with me as their agent exclusively. Get a buyers representation signed.Then everyone is on the same page.
    We do it for sellers, why not buyers?
    Always ask the question.

  5. says

    Don’t forget your closer! He or she is the FIRST person whom should be informed of the closing date…..We have a schedule, you guys. Also, PLEASE make sure you SPELL your buyer’s name correctly. You have no idea what all it entails when you do not. Let your closer know if the people in title are divorced. Also, let us know if anyone in title is deceased. This will save you a lot of time and heart ache. If your seller’s hold title in a Trust, this is another thing we would like to know in advance. Never ever depend upon a financed transaction to close on time. Warn your buyer….they are frequently extended much to the seller’s dismay. Need I say anything about short sales? They take MONTHS! Let your buyer know that from the beginning and please try to not “blame” the closer who is doing all she/he can do to get it closed. I am speaking on all the above with 30 yrs. experience.

    Ask your sellers if they have a survey. This will save the buyer money. You may get a referral based on this alone. Ask your seller if they have an Owners Policy 3 yrs. old or less. Your seller will love and refer you for the substantial amount of money they can save on this.

    We normally work from 9 to 5. We have family and a job too. Remember that CA lenders are 3 hours behind us. They will send their loan pkg out at 2:00 THEIR time which is 5:00 OUR time….we are ready to go home at this point. Please don’t ask us to stay until 8 or 9 at night. Please don’t ask us if we work weekends or holidays. We work on salary and not commission. I hope I’m giving you guys some good pointers here….I’m not trying to mean. Be nice to your closer. Respect her or him. It will come back ten fold to you.

  6. Amy says

    Most of these things to be are just common sense. But I do have to disagree about the asking for items to be fixed. We didn’t want to negotiate price we just wanted the seller to fix things in the house that they had purposely damaged (i.e. holes punched in the walls). They flat out refused to fix them and stated we should have mentioned it when we put the bid in on the house.

    • says

      Amy I have to agree with the seller on this one. If you saw the holes in the wall and wanted them fixed you should have asked for that in your offer. On an issue that is clearly visible like this any seller is going to assume you are making your offer based on the fact that it is there.

      So many buyers assume that a home inspection is their opportunity to re-negotiate the contract. Obviously if the inspector finds things that you had no way of knowing, you are entitled to expect certain things to be fixed.

      BUT thinking that a hole in the wall should be fixed when you saw it before making the offer is not reasonable. In fact your real estate agent should have counseled you on this issue at the time you made your offer.

  7. TaylorS says

    Just trying to follow here . . . you’re saying you hate it when your clients do things that make you work to earn your sometimes-absurdly-fabulous commission (as ours did, earning 3% for a house we found on our own). Sorry to bother you guys.

    • says

      Taylor it sounds like you would be the perfect candidate to get your real estate license. After all this is a super easy business and in just a few years you will be rich beyond your wildest dreams.

    • Rose Canha says

      Taylor – You found the house on your own? So your Realtor didn’t show you the home? Your Realtor didn’t assist you with market value so you could make an offer? Your Realtor didn’t negotiate purchase contract? Or be present during home inspection? Negotiate any home inspection issues? Communicate with your lender, closing attorney, do your walk thru, answer all your questions any time of day when you called, sent text, emailed?
      perhaps your Realtor shouldn’t have been paid because you found the house which didn’t fit the criteria YOU provided to him/her
      Clearly sounds as if you need a career in Real Estate so you too can become independently wealthy doing nothing at all.

    • Jeff says

      Good list and while Taylor’s comment is very general, Real Estate IS a service business. Nothing on that list should occur to an agent if they do ONE thing well…communicate with their client. I know this is an old thread, but it’s still true today. I found this because I’m searching for the right way to fire my buyer agent. I have a contract with her until the end of the year and she’s a nice person, but obviously too busy to do her job. Buying / selling real estate is an emotional endeavor for the client and even though I’m angry right now, I don’t want to just say, “you’re fired”. She’s nice…but her lack of focus (as her client, focusing on my deal IS her job) means we may have missed a deadline…I don’t even know if we have or haven’t. And, at this moment it doesn’t even matter if we have or haven’t because either way I feel I should fire her. In my case it’s acreage, not a house. I found it…her husband walked it with me…no market value advice (offer what you think it’s worth). On that same day he and I walked two of her listings also at their suggestion…neither of which was a good fit for what I was looking for. So I offered on the one that I had picked out and that’s when the issues started. It took her a week to get me the paperwork to start…she has dragged her feet every step of the way since and I have to ask repeatedly if she sent things. Really? For a couple of hours work (and a couple of hours of her husbands time), she’s going to make several thousand dollars…that’s not worth a little communication? It’s a cash deal, so it’s not complicated. We were right at the end of the negotiations with the seller (one that has time constraints on it and wasn’t that long…across two days…offer / counteroffer / addendum / countered). I responded asking her to accept the counter to the addendum we received less than 10 minutes after she sent it via email from her iPhone (at 9:00am) and have not heard anything from her since (3 days). My calls go to voicemail (only twice have I called and they were during business hours)…my single text asking if she let them know we accepted is unanswered. I’m sorry, but I manage corporate I/T (a service business also)…and your/my clients deserve communication. We all have families and lives, but this is the life you (and I) chose. If you can’t communicate in a couple of hours (even to let them know you’ll get back with them as soon as possible) with today’s technology (which she obviously uses), you shouldn’t be in a service job.

      So…while agents have their issues with clients…clients also have their share of frustrations. I now need to figure out how to fire this agent and still buy the land I want. Oh…and she was great while I was interviewing buyer agents…and seemed to be highly recommended. Good grief…

      • says

        You are right Jeff. It goes both ways – there are good and bad real estate agents just like every other profession. I am not afraid to say there are a high rate of terrible real estate agents as I see what goes on every day. Don’t ever forget it is an easy business to break into. You should hold your agent accountable.

        • Jeff says

          Wish there was a way I could hold her accountable. I don’t think it’s an ethics violation, but it sure is unprofessional. She did not meet the deadline and I still have not heard from her yet. I contacted the seller agent about 24 hours after the deadline to find out. He told me that she had not contacted him. I completed the deal via him. He sent me the paperwork to sign.

          I went over it to ensure it was exactly what we had been negotiating and signed / returned it to him. Now I’m going to send her an email with a picture of the earnest money check which I will mail to her tomorrow morning. I’m no longer as angry (as I will get the land I wanted at the price I was comfortable with), but her lack of professional behavior astounds me and I will definitely let that be known. I’m sure she’ll get paid, but she doesn’t deserve it.

  8. PatrickH says

    “Understand what is reasonable and what isn’t. Your real estate agent should be able to guide you on this.”

    -Only if they really want to get sued some day! It is perfectly appropriate to advise the buyer how the seller may react to inspection requests, but never tell them what they should or shouldn’t ask for. The moment you tell them not to ask for something that ends up costing them money your e&o carrier won’t be happy.

    • says

      Patrick – there is a big difference between directing someone and setting reasonable expectations. I have never been afraid to give advice and never will. The buyer is not obligated to do anything I suggest. Regarding your point I would never tell a buyer what they should and shouldn’t do when it comes to inspection requests. I would guide them on what the seller more than likely would consider a reasonable request. There have been numerous buyers over the years who have taken the liberty to ask for whatever they deemed appropriate. I am here to counsel not to dictate.

    • says

      Thanks Carol – you are 100 percent correct. This is meant to educate buyers and secondarily remind real estate agents that most consumers don’t know everything we do. Never assume anything and always try to educate your clients as best you can.

  9. says

    Oh man, I have people telling me that they can afford more than the bank allowed them and it’s fine! Yeah right! Drives me nuts. I am not wasting my time on a buyer with a home I know they can’t afford. How to steer them back to homes in their price range is tough. I wish they truly understood the deal. Great post and so many truths!

    • says

      Jay when a buyer does this it is usually because they have unrealistic expectations of what a seller will accept. This is when you have to show them the typical list price to sale price ratio in your market. Some buyers just assume there will be a huge spread on list prices and what they can buy a home for.

  10. says

    As a first time home buyer or seller, it is important to find a right real estate agent to make your home buying or selling process easier, because they are well trained professionals in the field of real estate and will have access to various sellers and buyers. These things will definitely help everyone in managing their real estate process.

  11. says

    All great points: While many of us have heard the old axiom “buyers are liars” ( a slightly disparaging notion), the fact of the matter is, buyers are more often than not new to the process – overwhelmed and confused. As a matter of eliminating any potential confusion, when I first need a buyer at an open house, I make sure to ask a few pointed questions.

    1.) Have you already signed a Buyer Broker agency agreement with another Realtor?
    2.) Have you been pre-approved (different than prequalified) for your home loan?

    These two questions alone, when asked up front, can save realtors much frustration and wasted time.

  12. says

    I am a mortgage banker and I hate when this happens to my agents that refer me business. I hate when my bank goes through an extensive and thorough pre approval or pre qualification process depending on which one we provide at the time each client is different, some we will send through underwriting. There are others we don’t have to because they are cookie cutters.

    To get back to what I was saying I hate when the client calls me and says hey I got offered a lower rate from such and such bank can you beat it? What! are you kidding me I spent days and days helping you and you want to leave me for an .125 of a point. That’s what I hate. Anyway great post!

  13. Mike Lep says

    As someone in the process of buying / selling a home right now my responses to this article are:

    1. Why would the client care what the real estate agent likes or dislikes about buyers? The buyer is the person cutting the check. Buyers have a responsibility to be courteous and respect the agent’s time sure. They don’t have an obligation to buy a property just because agents are busy and work on commission. Neither do they have a responsibility to make an offer just because they’ve seen a house 5 times.

    2. In my admittedly limited experience, my agent has shown me properties far outside my stated price range, encouraged me to put a contingent offer on a house and then bickered with me about my proposed counter offer following a bad inspection, called me in a panic on Friday / Saturday nights with non issues that are beyond my control, encouraged me to accept a low ball offer on my current house rather than take on some minor repairs, and made nonstop excuses for a lack of showings and unattended open houses after appraising the house at almost $20K more than the current listing price.

    Maybe I just have a bad Realtor, but these types of complaints about Realtors are extremely common as you probably know.

    I don’t think it’s easy to deal with unreasonable clients and I understand the amount of time that goes into a commission based sales job. Just keep in mind that Realtors are equally if not more guilty if these same behaviors, the only difference is it’s your job.

    • says

      Mike it sounds to me like you don’t have a great real estate agent! I happen to agree with most of what you said other than your statement about buyers paying the commission. 99% of the time a Realtor gets paid by the seller not the buyer.

      The reason you should care what a real estate agent likes or dislikes is because you are supposed to be establishing a good relationship with this person. I think we can both agree both parties benefit when there is a level of trust and respect. If you don’t value your Realtors time why should they care about you as a client?

      In any business the best relationships are established when the parties see eye to eye would you not agree?

      There are some buyers who don’t intentionally do these things they just don’t know any better. A good Realtor should be educating them about the process of buying a home.

  14. Julia says

    Please note that demanding a pre-approval document puts buyers at a great disadvantage. Not all realtors expect this, knowing some lenders, as ours, only provide them for specific properties, which means reapplication for each potential home along our search. In addition to the risk of damaging one’s credit rating for too many inquiries, it greatly reduces our bargaining power when a Realtor knows that we may borrow much more than our beginning offer – this seems a very unethical approach to negotiating a purchase.

    Aside from the pre-approval concern, I hope a buyer’s perspective is useful to some conscientious agents. This article makes it pretty clear that many real estate agents are out of touch with buyer needs and motivation.

    For example, how does one know where s/he wants to live, and how much to consider spending, without the chance to first investigate the market? It’s like the sign in the fast food drive through lane that reads, “Please have order ready before you get to the menu board.” Is this not an unreasonable expectation on the part of an agent? Most buyers begin their search in uncertainty mode – are they not entitled to similar services as the seasoned buyer?

    And then, there are those like my husband and myself. As empty-nesters, we have begun our home search again after many years, and I am sad to say that the image of the agent as prima donna is one that has changed little since our last encounters with a few highfalutin, unresponsive realtors. There are too many details to discuss here, but our earlier buying experience in the 80s yielded contempt from one realtor for our modest means and our insistence on being frugal. Our relationship with another Realtor soured when we discovered she had reserved premium listings for her preferred clients, causing us to lose the chance to bid on properties that had excellent potential during a very competitive market. One family member here has special accessibility needs, so you can imagine how difficult it was to find the right home, but we eventually did so with the help of a lone scrupulous realtor who has since retired.

    We now find ourselves in need of a more manageable home. Again, it’s a difficult search, since our age and the market history warn us that this will be a final move. Our current (now former) agent, being young and successful, doesn’t understand that not all buyers are in a position to make profoundly life-impacting decisions in an instant. I suppose he believes that buyers should be cavalier about entering a legally binding move and then changing course again if the decision is the wrong one – after all, he has bought and sold and upgraded his own living arrangements many times.

    What escapes his youthful noggin is that the baby-boom generation, still the largest buying segment of the population, is not only looking for fewer stairs to climb – we are now seeking stability for our retirement years. We don’t have time, finances or energy left to play an erratic market, so whatever decision we make, it has to be absolutely sound, especially given the low inventory of suitable homes. This means viewing several properties, some two or three times, and then mulling over them for a few weeks before deciding.

    Taking clients out on eight scheduled two hour or less occasions over a period of 15 months isn’t exactly a grueling work load, but our young man seemed to feel it was excessive and told us so before declining to show us additional properties. It seems our name is now mud among local Realtors. Although we were loyal to our agent and had worked with no one else, we suddenly and suspiciously cannot get any new agent to return our calls on specific properties we’d like to view.

    Does anyone on this thread recognize the no-win situation buyers are placed in when Realtors demand absolute loyalty, and at the same time warn that too much time spent (subjectively) without an offer will create bad blood between them? I’m afraid the current housing downturn, for which past roughshod practices of Realtors are much to blame, has taught savvy buyers one thing: we will work for ourselves, and relinquish control of our search to no one. The only solution to the issues you’ve mentioned is for the buyer to be free (without judgment or territorial wars) to contact listing agents at their own discretion, and for Realtors to be upfront about their expectations before suggesting they have buyers’ best interest at the heart of their practice.

    Unfortunately, this article dismisses a general reality of Realtors lack of commitment to anyone but the seller. If Realtors truly represented buyers, they would be willing to accept that there is no one-size-fits all marketing strategy, and that many of the “hated” conditions mentioned in the article are best understood as all in a day’s work.

    • says

      Julia I really think you need a dose of reality. Many of your statements are completely false like the fact a lender needs to pull credit numerous times in order to generate a pre-approval.

      The premise that knowing you are more than qualified will automatically lead you to paying more for a property is a ridiculous assertion not based in fact or logic.

      A home is worth what it’s worth. Just because you can spend more than the asking price means nothing to a seller – they want to know you are qualified. It is actually a plus if you can qualify for more especially if you get involved in a situation where there are multiple offers on the table.

      It really comes as no surprise based on what you have written here that you don’t have a healthy relationship with real estate agents.

      Clearly you don’t understand how real estate works. You are just another person that thinks a Realtor should bend over backwards for you without the slightest bit of loyalty on your part. You looked at homes for over J 15 months and are wondering why a Realtor would question your motivation? Seriously? Have your ever heard the term “tire kicker”?

      • Julia says

        I’ll save the pre-approval issue for another discussion if you want to continue, because it was not the gist of my original response, anyway. Moving on, your assertion that I don’t know how real estate operates is right on the mark. That doesn’t mean I’m not an expert on my own housing needs, and I have stated them very plainly. I can’t let a realtor decide for me when a house will work. Our needs do not change based on the number of houses I’ve viewed and how many hours an agent has had to invest. We have been willing to make some concessions, but, obviously, I can’t settle for a two-story when I need a ranch. It’s not a great market; blaming the buyer for low inventory is misguided.

        Here is where I am also knowledgeable, and I hope you find this useful information: My field requires familiarity with Department of Labor established “skill domains” as they apply to different lines of work. Most professions require an inclination to work with either data, people, or things. Carpentry and skilled trades are “things” professions, social workers, educators, counselors, etc. are “people” professionals, doctors work primarily with “data” applied to medical conditions. You’ve probably heard how some doctors are great but have a poor bedside manner – that’s because they know their data but perhaps need to hone their sensitivity to the human side of their patients. I am suggesting that realtors fall into this same category. Your focus is data, and you can be very good at knowing the market, but if you are not willing to recognize that individualized services and a different set of skills and expectations are required to represent “people” then you should only sell houses, and not take on something that is bound to frustrate you. In the “people” profession, we know full well that humans have unique needs and results of our efforts can be very unpredictable. Our measure of success can’t be based on whether our clients all conform to a rigid standard of behavior, but on the knowledge that we’ve made a small difference in their lives. I’ve never expected a client to serve me, yet I’m perfectly happy in my role.

        However, if realtors insist on quantifying the fruits of their labor, they could at least reduce the number of unproductive hours spent if they informed buyers of their criteria up front before agreeing to represent them. How many hours and/or number of viewings are considered appropriate before a buyer gets labeled? Are 12 houses too many? 16 hours too much time? Over the course of 15 months, that is barely more than one hour/month, and less than one house/per month. Is that too much effort to spend on one client? As far as bending over backward, it seems to be to the realtor’s advantage that buyers can search online, drive by and eliminate numerous possibilities, and narrow the search to one particular region or neighborhood. In our case, I was also very clear on our price, so our agent was spared most of the work. All he had to do was show up, always at his convenience, and unlock the door and wait while we viewed. Our relationship was quite friendly, so I thought; he indicated all along that he wanted us to work exclusively with him, and I contacted no one else during the entire 15 months. So, tell me, please, what made me disloyal? Because I didn’t buy after viewing 12 houses? Wouldn’t the problem then be solved by adopting a standard that welcomes buyers contacting listing agents instead of burdening one realtor?

        • says

          Julia the pre-approval issue was really where I disagree with you. Your latest comment I happen to agree with. I don’t have a problem with a buyer taking their time to find a home in the least.

          What I would suggest however is to make it clear to the agent you are working with that you are looking for something very specific. If they can’t deal with you being choosy then the relationship should stop right there. You are right there should be no point in time where you have to find a home.

          What I have a problem with is a buyer working with an agent for 15 months and then deciding on a whim to go out looking with another agent and purchasing a home through them.

          That is a lack of respect for the agent, their time and how this business works.

          If you can’t see how that would put a sour taste in a Realtors mouth then we will never be on the same page.

  15. Jen says

    Bill, this is a great article and so true! I am a Buyer Agent and love what I do, but this is so spot on and helped remind me I’m not the only one who goes through it. Just like any job involving a service to people, you meet a few awful people. I delete them from my contact list the minute they close. I make it a point through my actions to prove to clients I am honest and looking out for their best interests and it bothers me to read articles about “What to look out for in your Realtor,” alluding we are all in it just for the most money and not to truly help people find homes.

    There are slimy people in every profession, but there are also genuine ones, too. As a buyer agent, I have a much smaller split than if I was out on my own, but I love the flexibility, partnership, and ability to work off of more leads from my team leader. It’s disheartening when people hint about cutting my commission when they have no clue that after my fees to my broker, my team leader, the government, and the yearly Realtor/Supra Key/MLS fees I get nothing close to what they see on the HUD!

    On a good note, I’ve found most clients to be great people who do take my advice to heart. As you said, educating them about the process, what they can expect from me and what I ask of them is key. I figure the clients who find a home on the first few trips out make up for the ones still looking after a year, even though I’ve shown them MANY homes that meet all of their criteria and they decide to low ball the one they actually do want to buy even when you show the comps and list price to sale ratio! At least you can’t say this career is boring!

  16. LucilleB says

    I think it’s only fair to mention what some Realtors do that buyers hate.

    Something I hate that my realtor does–she constantly talks when we’re looking at a house, even makes suggestions. I just want her to stand back and let us explore, think, and envision our family in the house.

    Another thing I hate is that she ignores my questions instead of making an effort to find out what I need to know. I know she’s busy, but some things are important. For example, a house we liked needed a new roof, which the seller said she intended to replace, and I kept asking when that would be. We were reluctant to make an offer until we had a solid date as we knew the loan wouldn’t be approved with the old roof. We were worried that we’d invest money in inspections, etc only to be rejected. Weeks passed before I got an answer and even then it was vague.

    We didn’t buy that house.

    A third thing that I really disliked is that, though she knew we intended to go VA, she wouldn’t bother to look into what kind of financing the seller would accept before she showed us a house. This could have been a huge waste of time for all of us. Luckily, it didn’t bring us disappointment.

    She also showed us a house that we wanted to put a contract on, but I learned through Trulia that the house had already sold–had sold, in fact, before she had even shown it to us. I knew before she did! Needless to say, we were disappointed. Our family and friends told us to find another Realtor, but I wanted to give her another chance as she’d shown us so many houses, and I felt that she deserved the commission.

    So we stuck with her, and, finally, we found the perfect house and are now under contract. What a huge sense of relief!

    As to the debate about pre-approval–I can see your point. Of course Realtors work hard, and it’s a business. But from a buyer’s perspective, when we started out, we weren’t pre-approved. That’s because we were a little intimidated about taking the huge leap of buying a home. We wanted to buy but had cold feet. Looking at houses warmed us up to the idea of moving from the house we’ve owned for 22 years. So we did get pre-approved midway into our house hunting journey. Had the realtor refused to show us houses until we were pre-approved, she wouldn’t have made the sale.

    • says

      Lucille a few comments on what you have mentioned about your Realtor and what she does that bothers you. Realtors are supposed to make suggestions. Great real estate agents are not chauffeurs, they are advisors. An agent that makes suggestions might be thinking about your best interests. I know that is what I would be doing. Frankly, you are wrong about the roof. You would not get rejected for financing because the roof was not done. If it was a requirement for the loan, the lenders appraiser would come back prior to close to make sure the work has been completed.

      As for your reluctance to get pre-approved, that wouldn’t cut it with me. Do you know how many people wouldn’t have the sweet ending you did? There are lots of people who waste real estate agents time when they can’t get approved for a mortgage. It happens all the time. As a Realtor you can be professional and take your business seriously or not. Be a seller for a moment – would you want to get your home ready for a showing, vacate, and then later find out these buyers the Realtor was bringing through were not qualified? I doubt it!

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